I know several MO crews own semi-auto Thompsons. What can you tell me about this gun? Is Kahr made gun better than AO? Any widespread malfunction problems with the closed bolt system? What ammo does it like (or doesnt like)? Any experience shared is apreciated ...
Kahr owns Auto Ordnance, they are the same company now Oz.
I haven't gotten a chance to shoot AFSOC's yet but I've gotten to fondle it. It is HEAVY, think Izzy FAL heavy.
Yes it is quite heavy. The M1A1 weighs at 11.5 lbs, the 1927 model is even heavier. Compare that to the Garand at 9.5 lbs.
You'll get almost exactly 50% statements to buy an older gun made by Numrich Arms/Gun Parts, and 50% saying to buy a Kahr.
The Thompson is HEAVY, just like the original Thompson Submachine Gun.
That's because its still made of solid forged and milled steel and American walnut.
The gun's trigger pull is long, heavy, and gritty. Little can be done about that because of the gun's design.
The mechanism is an involved, complicated design, made necessary by the ATF's resistance to allowing Numrich to make the gun back in the late 60's.
Back then, the ATF refused to allow ANY gun to be made that even resembled a TSMG, and George Numrich had to threaten to take them to court.
In order to satisfy the ATF, the trigger design is heavy, and there's not much that can be done about it.
The gun is set up to shoot 230 grain, full-metal jacket ammo and that's the only ammo the factory recommends. It will shoot lead bullets, but these lead the Cutts Compensator up BADLY, and it's HARD to remove.
Some people do have good results with steel cased ammo, but the gun "usually" does NOT shoot steel case ammo very good, and has a rep of breaking extractors when used with steel. .
The gun is accurate, but since the sights are NOT like the original Lyman adjustable sights, there is no windage adjustment, and only coarse elevation adjustments.
The gun usually shoots great groups, but they may not be centered on target.
The action has HEAVY springs, and again, nothing much can be done about this due to the design.
As an automatic weapons design, the gun is usually very reliable.
When it isn't, it's almost always the fault of worn out magazines, or magazines improperly alter to fit the semi-auto gun.
On magazines in the semi-auto, you have three options:
1. Alter original commercial or GI magazines to work by filing the magazine catch hole SLIGHTLY upward until the magazine catch will engage the magazine.
2. Alter the magazine catch to work with unaltered magazines.
3. Replace the semi-auto magazine catch with an original full-auto catch.
When magazines don't properly fit the gun, you get stoppages.
The gun is an ABSOLUTE HOOT to shoot.
Be prepared to reload or buy bulk ammo, it EATS ammo.
It always draws a crowd at the range and everyone wants to shoot it.
What it ISN'T, is a modern light-weight assault weapon, it isn't a target weapon with a light, smooth trigger, and it isn't a really a good home defense gun due to the weight and bulk.
What it is, is a fun gun. It's a plinker and can roller.
Look at it like the modern copies of the Winchester lever rifles and the single action revolvers: A shooting replica of a historical full-auto weapon, that's legal to own.
While it is true you get 50% pos 50% Neg on the semi auto Thompson I can actually give you a 50 either way on one gun... I have had my tommy work flawlessly, then on the next trip to the range had it work like crap... Advise to use the modified mag catch as opposed to hacking on several magazines, the mags from KAHR are crap you can get nicer surplus mags for less money than the 65.00 Kahr modified magazines... IMA has a deal on Tommy 20 rounders and What a country has a deal on 30 rounders the NEW Kahr thompson drums are a crap shoot some work, most do not... they can be fixed but it does take some work. Take a look over at machinegunbooks.com in the thompson forum again you will find as many opinions as you get answers, there is a fellow name of PK who does excellent work on Thompsons, including putting correct markings receiver.Thompson Forum The gun was designed to use and works best with 230 grain jacketed hardball, Wolf may well cause your extractor to break steel cases can do that.
And since this thread needs a picture....
dfariswheel, WOW .. thanks for a great overview.
So the magazines for SA gun is different from the FA gun. I did not know this. I am looking at buying one to use in WW2 reenactment thinking that cheap surplus magazines are plentiful. But it seems that cheap surplus magazines do not work right off. YIKES ........
How difficult is it to replace the magazine catch? How easy is it to find the original catch? Is it legal to do so? Why did they modify the mag catch to begin with?
The Mag Catch is the same it is not difficult to remove and replace but you have to modify one or buy one already modified (runs about the same money as a Mag from Kahr $65) or take the original or a cheaper replacement and take about .100 off the top apparently among the other changes Kahr/ Auto Ordnance made the placement of the Mag Catch is higher than original...
it is an easy fix I bought a new catch while I was going through Chemo and have not gotten around to replacing it yet...
Hey Oz, I have one myself, got it just a month ago or so. Dfaris knows his stuff about these guns. If I can make it to the next shoot I will bring mine.
I have only taken mine to the range once and it had no functional problems. The only trouble I had was I wasn't able to shoot it accurately at all since it is so damn heavy. You can't believe how heavy these things are especially with that 50rd drum hangin underneath!
See ya soon....(I hope)
Mine isn't the M1 clone, mine is a clone of the older style gangster gun, the M1928. forward pistol grip and finned barrel. If I can post a pict later I will.
Oz, if you decide to get one we can modify the mag catch for you. We do have mill after all.
What kind of BFA do the reenactors use? I would think with such a heavy bolt and carrier that it would have major issues trying to cycle with blank ammo.
Perfectly legal. If you can't find a GI catch (try Gun Parts Corp or other sources), instructions for modifying the semi catch can be found here (click next page for the rest). The reason the catches are different is because the receiver height is different between the full-auto and semi models. ATF required this as a condition of allowing the gun to be made, so a full-auto bolt and other parts wouldn't fit the semi.
(btw, some of you might be asking what's a TX boy doing in the MO forum.....my folks are from MO, family still lives there & has land I shoot and hunt on, so I like to keep up on what's going on.)
As a bit of Semi-auto history:
When the Thompson SMG was declared obsolete late in WWII, the owner closed up the factory, crated everything up and put it in storage.
In the early 1950's George Numrich bought the Auto Ordnance company from Mr. McGuire, the owner.
Numrich built his company buying defunct gun companies, usually getting a bunch of parts, and some dusty old company records.
THIS TIME, when they opened the crates, they found tons of parts, the entire production tooling and jigs, the production prints, AND the company prototype guns dating back to 1919.
This was a BIG problem since there was no transfer paper on the full-auto guns.
The ATF was reasonable this time, since no one had any idea what was in the crates, so Numrich got to keep the guns.
Numrich built and repaired full-auto guns for many years using the spare parts and tooling.
In the mid-1960's George Numrich decided to expand by building a civilian-legal semi-auto gun based on the Thompson and using as many original full-auto parts as possible.
At the time, the ATF would not allow ANY semi-auto firearm to be made that even resembled a Thompson gun.
The Plainfield company made a M1 Carbine with an aluminum stock that resembled a Thompson.
The stock had a Thompson-looking wood butt and pistol grip, and an aluminum fore grip.
The ATF ALMOST didn't allow Plainfield to make the gun because it looked too much like a full-auto Thompson.
When Numrich got started on the semi Thompson the ATF refused to let him make the gun due to it's close appearance to the SMG guns.
Since there was NO law or regulation about "appearance" Numrich finally threatened to take the ATF to court, and they backed off, knowing they'd get shot down in court.
They did demand a design that could not be easily converted to full-auto, and Numrich and his design team did just that.
Numrich gave an interview when the gun was introduced, in which he stated that he's spent $100,000 designing a gun that COULD NOT be converted to full-auto.
Within weeks of it's introduction, The Shotgun News was full of ads selling instructions on how to convert the gun to open or closed bolt full-auto.
While the action IS heavy, and the trigger pull is lousy, there are things that can be done to lighten and smooth both, to a certain degree.
The Semi-auto Numrich/Auto Ordnance guns were the first of the semi-auto firearms based on full-auto designs, and the others, like the Uzi, AK-47, Sterling, and others all follow pretty much the path blazed by Numrich/Auto Ordnance: A longer barrel, with an action similar to the original gun, usually with a heavy long trigger pull, and using as many original parts as possible.
The Thompson semi-auto is more of a "Range toy" or a fun gun than a practical defense or hunting firearm.
I am soaking up all this info like a sponge! Keep them coming and thanks to all who share their wealth of knowledge and experience.
DUKE, I dont know how to make an SA Thompson to shoot blanks, yet. I have seen the <2> Rangers group in STL carried quite a few Thompsons, most of them have shorter barrel (SBR?). One possibility is to permanently plug an old barrel and create an orifice to vent the gas out. But how hard is it to replace the barrel? Is it a job best reserved for a gunsmith? If so, I dont want to convert my Thompson into a blank only gun ....
There is another way ..... this is how most reenactors do it with the M1 carbine. They counterbore and thread the interior of the muzzle. Then a small piece of steel plug can be screwed in and an appropriate size orifice drilled through the plug. I know this lowers the value of the gun permanently, unless you replace the barrel.
OZ, you dont want to make it only for blanks, you would be better off buying a blank firing only then. there cheaper also.
i have shot one of the gangster models. old dealer had one. it ran well. i compared it to the ones CMMG had and the both shot the same except theres were the real deal, full auto. i thought the both shot and hit were i amed. the 16 inch barell doesnt look to bad on them either. there just pricy it seems. i mean i think you should just get a garand for it instead, you could get one as cheap ad the tommy gun. or have Duke buld you a greese gun. that would be differnt.
I am still debating how much I want this. I want to complete my US military arms collection. The M1A1 Thompson certainly fits the collection quite nicely. Perhaps, I should just take the money and look for an M1 carbine ..... I dont have one yet. You can still get a surplus carbine for a little less than a SA Thompson. But you need to go to Class III stuff if you want a real Thompson.
I dont know, I have 4 M1 ... adding another one will not change the collection much. Unless of course you are talking about H&R, IHC or WRA Garand ....
Not sure yet.
Who's Duke, and what kind of grease guns does he build?
The easiest Thompson's to convert to blank firing are the models with the Cutts Compensator on the barrel.
A compensator is altered with a bushing with a hole in the middle.
It's inserted in the compensator, and it's screwed to the barrel.
This is fairly easy, and the gun can be converted back to live ammo by simply switching compensator's.
Altering a M1-A1 type Thompson is harder, since you'd have to alter a barrel.
Removing a Thompson barrel, is NO job for a home gunsmith. These semi-auto barrels are installed by gorillas, and are TOUGH to get off.
Plus, due to the Thompson's forearm mounting bar, you can't get a good barrel vise set up, and this makes it even harder.
To top it all off, on the semi-auto guns, for some reason, you see a few guns with the flange on the forearm bar deformed, and this acts as a lock washer on the barrel, making it even harder.
Like posted above, if you buy one, and have any problems send it off to PK, he is THE Thompson mechanic. You can go to the Thompson forum listed above and ask questions to those guys. They live and breathe Tommies, to the point of knowing individual serial numbers.
I sent my Savage M1 Tomiie off to PK. It will be a piece of art when he returns it.
My understanding of the semi versions the West urley/Kahr makes is that it's best to replace the parts with USGI parts, and they'll run great.
If you get a 27/28 version, you can contact Merle, who is the drum guru.
Go to the Tommy forums, and all will be revealed.
I love my Tommy, maybe I'll bring it again to the CMMG shoot next time.